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Discipline / Investigations

After workers’ comp claim, make sure supervisors don’t step up scrutiny


Employees who file workers’ compensation claims are protected from retaliation—essentially any change in working conditions that would lead a reasonable employee to rethink her decision to seek benefits. That can include sudden scrutiny of the employee’s work. That’s why HR should look carefully at any increased discipline against those who file workers’ comp claims.

Workplace in turmoil? Here’s how to know where to start cleaning house


Sometimes, a handful of bitter employees can poison the workplace atmosphere so much that production falls. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy to figure out who’s to blame. Here’s one way that sometimes works: Conduct a thorough assessment of the workplace by interviewing all the employees. What you learn may surprise you and provide the impetus to make some sorely needed changes.

When employee claims co-worker harassment, investigate promptly, act reasonably

If you respond quickly to sexual harassment complaints involving co-workers, you’ll seldom have to worry about coming out on the losing end of a sexual harassment lawsuit. As long as you respond reasonably, courts will defer to your best judgment—especially if the problem seems to have been resolved.

Keep records from unemployment comp case –you might need them later if employee sues

Don’t assume you won’t have to defend against a discrimination lawsuit just because you win an unemployment compensation case. Retain all records, just in case you need them in court later.

After bias complaint, beware future discipline

Employees who complain about discrimination sometimes think that makes them immune from discipline. They may have heard that employers can’t retaliate against employees who complain. That’s true, but only to a point. The best approach: Make sure the managers who decide on discipline don’t know about the prior complaint.

Emotional distress suits: Court says employers can access medical records going back 2 years

Employers have a right to defend themselves if an employee sues them for discriminating in a way that inflicts emotional distress. Now a court has agreed that employers are entitled to see medical records dating back two years from the time of the alleged discrimination that the employee says triggered the emotional distress.

Stop lawsuits cold: Launch immediate investigation when bias accusations fly


Some managers worry needlessly that they will be sued for discrimination if they fire an employee—especially one who acts as though she has a chip on her shoulder. But as long as an internal investigation finds that the employee hasn’t been discriminated against because of a protected characteristic, you likely have little to worry about.

When harassment case is on the line, be ready to prove you did everything you could to stop it

Employers have an obligation to try to prevent harassment when it erupts. But courts often give an “A” for effort. They won’t measure your efforts solely by whether your prevention strategy worked.

Worker always complaining? Investigate anyway


Some employees gripe all the time. You know them: They’re the ones who regularly appear in your doorway, ready to file yet another complaint with HR about supposed unfair treatment and discrimination. No matter how groundless, look into their claims.

Three’s a crowd: Can an employee bring someone else along to his performance appraisal?

Q. An employee has asked to have his wife present during his performance evaluation. Does he have the right to bring a representative?